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The Brief: Nov. 7, 2013

So is New Jersey's Chris Christie the next Bill Clinton — or the next George W. Bush?

Mitt Romney and Gov. Chris Christie shake hands after Romney introduces him at event in Lebanon, N.H.

The Big Conversation

So is New Jersey's Chris Christie the next Bill Clinton — or the next George W. Bush?

Of one thing there can be no doubt: Christie's re-election as governor of the Garden State on Tuesday was the talk of the national political scene the next day. That's due to the size of his victory where he made significant inroads with Hispanics and blacks. His attention-getting victory speech where he all but kicked off a run for the presidency in 2016 got a lot of mentions as well on Tuesday night.

Writing in Politico, Rich Lowry made the Clinton comparison.

"Christie’s implicit pitch to the national GOP will probably be that he’s to Republicans in the 2010s what Bill Clinton was to the Democrats in the 1990s. In other words, he offers a different kind of politics that can potentially unlock the presidency after a period of national futility for his party," Lowry wrote. "Like Clinton, who so famously felt people’s pain, Christie connects. He has a reputation for confrontation — rightly — but Christie’s emotional range is much broader. His response to Hurricane Sandy was, in part, a great act of empathy. Near the end of his victory speech, he spoke about hugging New Jerseyeans."

The Dallas Morning News' Wayne Slater had a more Texas-centric template for Christie. Slater noted that Bush also captured significant percentages of the Hispanic and black vote in his 1998 re-election bid.

"But it was the cross-party appeal that both men showed that portended their political future," Slater wrote. "According to exit polls, 26 percent of Texas Democrats voted for Bush. As for New Jersey Democrats, 32 percent voted for Christie. In both cases, the candidates looked ahead to a broader national audience by trying to knock off some of the rough edges of their party’s image. Bush saw that too many voters viewed the GOP as heartless and intolerant. Bush ran as a 'compassionate conservative.' Christie, at this moment of political polarization, ran as a results-oriented conservative."

It's left to the others eyeing the GOP nomination in 2016 — including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry — to wonder when the infatuation with Christie will diminish and for the spotlight to move elsewhere, as it inevitably will.

Culled

•    Texas’ Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at Polls (The New York Times): "On Tuesday, Texas unveiled its tough new voter ID law, the only state to do so this year, and the rollout was sometimes rocky. But interviews with opponents and supporters of the new law, which required voters for the first time to produce a state-approved form of photo identification to vote, suggest that in many parts of the state, the law’s first day went better than critics had expected."

•    Prop 6 coalition splits on path forward (Houston Chronicle): "The ambitious plan to tap Texas' savings account to address the state's water needs brought together unlikely allies: environmentalists and chemical makers, farmers and builders, Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Democratic lawmakers. But the bonhomie didn't last past election night Tuesday."

•    Dome, Katy stadium brought down by anti-spending sentiment (Houston Chronicle): "Political observers on Wednesday said a quiet but pervasive anti-spending sentiment gripping the electorate and lax campaigning led voters to reject a $217 million proposal to renovate the iconic stadium and a $99 million bond proposal that included a $69.5 million high school football stadium in Katy."

•    In Texas, Obama Calls on Perry to Expand Medicaid (The Texas Tribune): "During a visit to Dallas on Wednesday, President Obama called on Gov. Rick Perry to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act and commended grassroots advocates for their work to educate uninsured residents on health insurance options under the new law."

•    Experts say Medicaid expansion could also increase food stamp spending (The Dallas Morning News): "As President Obama visits Dallas today and urges Gov. Perry to participate in the federal government’s Medicaid expansion, experts say that expansion may swell the rolls of another big federal program– food stamps. Expanding Medicaid could increase the number of food stamp recipients by up to 5 percent, said Greg Mills, a fellow at the Urban Institute, a progressive think tank that researches poverty issues."

Quote to Note"It's easy to make everyone happy with a Christmas wish list because everything gets on it. But when you start setting priorities, there will be big disagreements." — Texas A&M professor Ronald Kaiser on the conflicts to come for erstwhile allies on Prop 6

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